He further explains his African experience:Many years ago, when I, a boy of ten or twelve years of age, followed my father’s wagon through the wildBushlandsof the Northern Transvaal, Portuguese East Africa andMashonaland, I met and gained the friendship of many Natives—principally Zulus—of the class known asIsanusi, a term, popularly but improperly interpreted as “Witch Doctor”. Why those men, who with Europeans and even with their own people are always intensely reserved, should havefavouredme with their confidence is something I do not, even now, clearlyunderstand,yet they certainly did so. I recall a conversation with one of their number, by name,Mankanyezi(The Starry One), with whom I was particularly intimate, which impressed me deeply;so much so that I have never forgotten it. My father had declared his intention of placing me in care of a Missionary, in order that I might receive some education, and learn white men’s ways. I repeated his words toMankanyezi, who shook his head doubtfully on hearing them and said:
“Your teachers are doubtless learned men. But why do they strive to force their beliefs on us without first learning what our beliefs are? Not one of them, not evenSobantu,knows anything of our real belief. They think that we worship the spirits of our ancestors; that we believe our spirits, when we die, enter the bodies of animals. They, without proof or without enquiry, condemn us, theIsanusi, as deluders of our more ignorant brethren; or else they declare us to be wicked wizards having dealings with evil spirits. To show how ignorant they are, I shall tell you what we teach the Common Man (ordinary Native). We teach that he has a body; that within that body is a soul; and within the soul is a spark or portion of something we callItongo, which the Common Man interprets as the Universal Spirit of the Tribe. We teach that after death the soul(Idhlozi)after hovering for a space near the body departs to a place calledEsilweni(Place of Beasts). This is a very different thing, as you can see, from entering the body of a beast. InEsilweni, the soul assumes a shape, part beast and part human. This is its true shape, for man’s nature is very like that of the beast, save for that spark of something higher, of which Common Man knows but little. For aperiod whichis long or short, according to the strength of the animal nature, the soul remains inEsilweni, but at last it throws aside its beast-like shape and moves onward to a place of rest. There it sleeps till a time comes when itdreamsthat something to do or to learn awaits it on earth,thenit awakes and returns, through the Place of Beasts, to earth and is born again as a child. Again and again-does the soul travel through the body, through the Place of Beasts, to its rest, dreams its dream and returns to the body; till at last the Man becomes true Man, and his soul when he dies goes straight to its rest, and thence, after a space, having ceased to dream of earth, moves on and becomes one with that from which it came—theItongo. Then does the Man know that instead of being but himself, apart, he is truly all the tribe and the tribe ishe.This is what we teach, I say, for this is the utmost the Common Man is capable of comprehending; indeed many have only a vague comprehension, even of this much. But the belief of us, Wiser Ones, is something far wider and greater, though similar. It is far too wide and great for Common Man’s comprehension—or for yours, at present. But I may say this much, that we know that theItongois not the mere Spirit of the Tribe, but is the Spirit within and above all men—even all things; and that at the end, all men being one in Spirit, all are brothers in the flesh”.
Mankanyezi, continues Bowen,was a pure Zulu, of the royal blood.What his age might have been, it isnot known,‘but certainly he was at least seventy’.‘He was a tall, lean man, light chocolate incolour, of a distinctly Jewish cast of countenance, without a trace of the Negroid, with the exception of his snow-white hair which was frizzled. Both by the natives and by the few white hunters who knew him he was regarded as a powerful magician, but only once did I get a glimpse of this side of his character’.
A year or two subsequent to the talk above quoted, (writes Bowen) in company with a famous Boer hunter namedSarelDu Pont, I metMankanyezinear the Limpopo River, and he gave us a direction to the Great Lakes of the North, and said:“Much farther, I think. You will ere you again see this river visit the Great Lake of the North (LakeNyassa). To the eastward of that lake, you will visit the springs of another river, and there you will meet one of my elder brothers”.
“Indeed”, said Du Pont, “if it should happen that we go so far, which is not our intention, how are we to know this brother of yours? I suppose he is not your brother in reality, but merely one in the Spirit, as you say all men are?”.Mankanyezireplied:
He is, as you say, not my brother in the flesh. I call him my elder brother because he is an Elder in the Family (Society) to which I belong, whose members are the guardians of theWisdom-which-comes-from-of-old. There are many of us—one at least in every tribe and nation—throughout this great land. We are of many ranks, from the learner to the Master, and to those Higher Ones whose names may not be spoken, I am a common Brother;he of whom I speak is my Elder.
[20:50, 05/04/2016] Ras Benny: SarelDu Pont:“But”, I asked in some surprise, “how can you know this man, seeing you have often told me you have never travelled beyond the Zambezi?“.Mankanyezi:“I know him, because I have often seen him, though not in the flesh. Often have we spokentogether.Do you think the mind of Man can travel only in the flesh? Do you think thought is limited by the power of the body? See this, and try to understand”.
As he spoke he pointed to alizard whichbasked in the sun, near by. Fixing his eyes upon it, he extended his hand, palm upward, towards it, and began to breathe slowly and regularly. In a few seconds, the beady eyes of the little reptile turned towards him. It took a little run forward, then stopped, its sides expanding and contracting, rhythmically. After a few seconds’ further pause, it again darted forward and settled itself upon the old man’s open palm. He let it rest for a minute,thenslid it gently among the leaves where it quickly concealed itself. He looked at us and smiled gently. “That is witchcraftperhaps you will say”, he said, “perhapsI sent an evil spirit to call the lizard to me. Or perhaps it is itself an evilspirit whichserves me. If I tell you that my mind went out and entered its brain and our two minds became one, you will not believe. Some day, perhaps, you will understand”.
Over a year later, near the source of the Rovuma River, to the east of LakeNyassa, we put up at a Native village, and there met an old man (aMasai—not a Zulu) who greeted us as friends of his brother,Mankanyezi. From careful enquiries made by my companion, it became certain that this man andMankanyezicould never have met. The one had certainly never been south of the Zambezi, and equally certainly the other had never been north of the river. Yet there was no question of their intimate knowledge of each other, aknowledge which could not have been gained second hand, for a thousand milesseparated their dwelling places, and the tribes had no point of contact whatsoever.
Continues Bowen:About the time of Dr. Jameson’s Raid on the Transvaal, I entered the service of the B.S.A. Co. (Chartered Company), and since then down to 1924,I was almost continually employed by one or other of the Colonial Administrations from the Equator to the Cape, always in some capacity which brought me in intimate contact with the Natives. Of the existence of the Society, mentioned byMankanyezi, I received constant assurances, and once came in close touch with certain of its higher ranks.Some years after the Boer War, I was engaged in work on behalf of the Natal Government, in a certain large Native Reserve, in the course of which I was astonished to find occupying a remote, inaccessible valley, a small community of people—perhaps less than a hundred of all ages and both sexes—who were certainly not Zulus, nor, in fact, of an African Race I had ever seen. Had it not been for the fact that they lived the life of the Natives, and identified themselves in all respects with their Bantuneighbours, I should have said that they were members of some Southern European Race. Incolourthey varied a good deal, from the brown of a high caste Hindu to pure white. Their features were of pure European type, more uniformly classical indeed than is usual among Europeans.
Continues Bowen:The chief of this little community bore the Zulu name ofMandhla-langa(Strength of the Sun). He was a man of striking appearance, well over six feet in height, slight of figure, with wavy, snow-white hair, olive complexion and features which, with the exception of the cheek bones which were rather prominent, were almost pure Greek in type. Among the Zulus, he bore the reputation of being a supernatural being.
Mandhlalanga, continues Bowen,is a master, or teacher in the Brotherhood mentioned byMankanyezi. He has travelled in Europe, Asia and America. He speaks English and other European languages perfectly, but his talks with me were conducted in the secret Bantu tongue, which to the ordinary Native has been dead for ages, and of the continued existence of which few Europeans are aware. In the following quotations, the reader must realize that many obscurities are probably due to the difficulty of rendering in English the exact shades of meaning.
From the first,Mandhlalangawas extremely friendly towards me, and showed a desire to win my confidence. He gave me invaluable aid in the work upon which I was engaged, and that, eventually, I completed it successfully was largely owing to him. As regards himself, he remained for a time rather reserved, however. He and his people, he gave me to understand were Berbers, or ratherKhabyles(he pronounced the nameKha-beel-ya, the “Kh” he pronounced as a guttural), from North Africa. But what they were doing five thousand miles from their native habitat, or why they chose to identify themselves with the Zulus, he did not explain.[Berbers were the original black Africans of North Africa].
Time, however, brought about a change in his attitude. One day I was speaking of the inexplicable manner in which news of distant happenings spreads among the Natives, when suddenly he said:
Thought is speedier than the electric spark and needs no wires for its conveyance. All it requires is a brain todespatchit and another to receive it. Would you believe if I told you that I and others of the Brotherhood to which I belongcantransmit our thoughts one to the other, no matter how far apart our bodies may be?[This still remains a mystery to the author]
Continues Bowen:This was a rather startling statement, but I recalled what I had learned fromMankanyezi. I replied, “Yes, I think I might believe that, but I should be more sure if you explained how it is done”.
Mandhlalanga’sresponse:“To attempt to explain our science to you”, he said, smiling, “would be rather like trying to explain the differential calculus to a child who is ignorant of simple addition. However, I am satisfied that you have a mind unclouded by the average European’s prejudices and preconceptions, so, if you will, I will take you as a pupil and teach you the simple addition of our lore. Whether you ever reach knowledge of the differential calculus, will depend entirely on yourself. I can teach, but I cannot guarantee that you can learn”.
Bowen:After some consideration I agreed to becomeMandhlalanga’spupil, and for a year continued under his instruction. Then circumstances arose which led to my abandoning my studies and quitting this portion of the country. I never again encountered my teacher, nor for some considerable time afterwards did I ever receive a communication from him. With another of his fellows, however, whom I met at that period, I have several times been in contact, and have received from him communications at infrequent, though regular intervals.The sum of the information I gained fromMandhlalanga, during that year, is not very large, and I am so far from clear concerning its exact significance that I shall make no attempt at explaining it. I shall content myself here with certain extracts from the copious notes I made of his discourses at the time they were delivered and allow the reader to interpret them as he sees fit.
Ithongoand its Explanations
Mandhlalangaexplains the concept ofItongoas follows:
TheItongo(Universal Spirit) is ALL that ever was, is, or ever shall be, conceivable or inconceivable. TheItongois ALL things, all things are of IT; but the sum of all things is not theItongo.TheItongoisALL the power there is, all power is of it; but all power, perceivable or conceivable, is not theItongo.TheItongois ALL the wisdom there is, all wisdom is of IT; but all wisdom conceivable is not theItongo.ALL substance, ALL power, ALL wisdom is of IT, and IT is in them and manifest through them, but IT is also above them and beyond them, eternallyunmanifest.
Man who is of theItongocan never know theItongowhile he is man. All he can know of IT are certainmanifestations whichcome within the range of his perceptions.
The pupil is generally taught that the manifestations are three in number. Namely:
2. Universal Force.
3. Universal Substance or Matter.
[Thepupilwould be like a student at a universityinstitutionlevel]
What is Force?:What we call Force is not a separate manifestation. It is simply certain of the lowest, or grosser grades of Mind.Force is simply that portion ofMind whichendows Matter with Form.It is that portion ofmindwhichtransmits the idea of Form to the higher grades where Consciousness dwells. Let the pupil think and he must see that this is so.Colour, size, shape, what are they? Simply light vibrations which when passed on to the Consciousness give the idea of Form. And what is vibration? It is Force. Heat, cold, hardness, softness, varieties of taste and smell are all vibrations, and therefore also Force. If you make Force a separate manifestation, then also must you make those planes ofMind whichtransfer the ideas of passion or emotion separate manifestations.